_This article appears in the March issue of An Extra Shot. If you would like to enjoy the entire issue,_ _click here to download_.
Some people are just born with it. For Sofia Mulanovich, “it” was the pure talent for maneuvering oceanic waves on her surfboard since age 9 outside her family’s home in Punta Hermosa, just south of Lima. She took to the skill like a natural as her whole family not only surfs, but excels at it; her older brother is a national surfing champion, just as Sofia would later become.
In 2004, Sofia went on to set new standards for men and women everywhere as the first South American to win the International Surfing Association’s World Title – at age 21. That was a good year for her, to say the least, when she also won the honor of World Champion at the World Championship Tour events.
Starting in 2005, she won four consecutive Surfer Magazine Poll Awards for the title as top female surfer. And in 2007, as the cherry on top of it all, Sofia was inducted into the Surfers Hall of Fame in Huntington Beach, California, one of the highest recognitions of the surfing industry.
_(Photo: Camila Toro)_
Today, she has retired from competitions and has instead turned her dedication to the non-profit Sofia Mulanovich Association with a surfing academy in a prime beach house in Punta Hermosa where her roots still hold. The organization strives to empower youth to enjoy a healthy, drug-free, and confident life through the practice of sport, art, and of course, surfing.
“At the end of 2013, I got tired of competing and needed a change,” says Sofia. “It was natural for me to pass on to future generations the things I learned during the World Tour.”
With generous private donations and Swatch fine watches as the official sponsor, the association was able to offer 3-year fully funded scholarships to ten finalists chosen in 2014. The young participants are encouraged to explore and experiment with the world around them by way of activities alongside formal education such as mural painting, beach cleaning, and high-level competitive surf workshops that encourage environmental protection, life lessons, personal growth, healthy competition, and respect for all living things.
The youth come from all backgrounds, but there are essential ideals that Sofia hopes each child takes home with them.
“The sea and nature are our allies so we must take care of them and respect them. This is the number one law,” she preaches. “Beyond this, [we promote]practice and discipline as fundamentals in sports.”
For more information, visit the project’s website.
A surf champ retires and embarks on a not-so-small effort to keep youth afloat in the journey towards personal growth.